What is Insomnia?
There is not a specific amount of hours of sleep that is considered “normal.” Therefore, doctors define insomnia as inadequate sleep that prevents normal functioning. Left untreated, insomnia can have a negative impact your health. The side effects of insomnia include obesity, heart attacks, strokes, hypertension and diabetes.
The Problem with Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills are often used to treat insomnia. Whether you are using over the counter pills or those prescribed by a doctor, you should proceed with caution. Over the counter medications are not recommended for long-term use. They can cause dry mouth, difficulty urinating, daytime sedation and constipation. Prescription sleeping pills can cause even more serious side effects. Prescription pills are known to be habit forming in some people, cause daytime sedation, headaches, memory impairment, allergic reactions, and impact ability to do normal daily functions such as driving.
Meditation Versus Medication for Insomnia
Meditation has emerged in recent years in the Western World has a novel approach to treating insomnia. In a 2010 study conducted by Jason Ong and David Sholtes of Rush University Medical Center, it was reported that patients who suffered from chronic sleep deprivation were able to reduce incidences of insomnia by regularly practicing meditation. According to another study that was at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, meditation helped alleviate chronic insomnia in the study participants. The researchers discovered that total sleep times, sleep latencies, sleep quality and efficiency as well as wake after sleep onset improved in patients who meditated consistently.
Why Does Meditation Alleviate Insomnia?
It is believed that meditation is an effective treatment for insomnia because meditating puts your brain into what is called an alpha state. Normally, when you are awake going about your daily routine, you are in a beta state. When you are in a beta state, your intuitive side is turned off and you are moving about quickly, jumping from one task to the next. Thinks of chaos. However, when you are asleep or daydreaming, you naturally go into an alpha state – you let go, relax and rely more on your intuitive side. Meditation allows you to achieve the alpha state without having to necessarily go to sleep or dream. You are able to achieve alpha state consciously and willingly.
The process of accessing the alpha state through meditation breaks down the barriers that are preventing sufferers of insomnia from sleeping. Studies show that meditation relaxes and de-stresses these patients, which in turn allows them to achieve quality sleep – all without the need for medications and their nasty side effects.